Breaking Down the Cover Crop Workshop Series Highlights

Last fall offered ideal conditions for cover crop establishment and growth, with adequate moisture and growing temperatures. Great fall growth helped protect the soil during heavy rain events, but could present challenges this spring if farmers are not prepared with a termination plan and equipment adjustments.

DSC_0192I am pleased to report that we had 350 attendees at our six spring cover crop management workshops across the state in late February and early March. Roughly 61% of attendees identified as farmers/ landowners looking for information as they prepared for spring.

Attendees were highly engaged and asked many questions of the speakers who shared tips on spring management of cover crops. I want to share with you a few of the frequently asked questions from the workshops and resource links to learn more.


In our long-term on-farm project, farmer partners reported that in 49 of 53 site-years, properly managed cover crops had little-to-no effect on corn and soybean yield (and actually increased soybean yield in 7 site-years).


Scout early to minimize potential impacts. Check out this podcast with ISU entomologists Matt O’Neal, Erin Hodgson, as they invite grad student, Mike Dunbar, to share his experience of true armyworm in a cornfield with a cereal rye cover crop.


ISU field agronomist Meaghan Anderson provided tips for planning to terminate cover crops this spring using herbicide, rolling/crimping and/or tillage in a recent Integrated Crop Management article.


ISU research data indicates no change is needed for nitrogen application rates following a cereal rye cover crop. However, you may want to apply starter fertilizer prior to corn.  Research summaries can be found on the ISU Soil Fertility website.


In addition to conservation purposes, cover crops can provide forage for livestock. It is important to consider restrictions on labels of herbicides used earlier in the growing season if you intend to use the cover crop as a forage source.

We want to thank everyone who helped make these workshops possible:
Carl Pederson, Mark Hanna, Tom Kaspar, Meghan Filbert, Stefan Gailans, Sarah Carlson, Angie Rieck-Hinz, Joel DeJong, Rebecca Vittetoe, Shane Wulf, and Justin Bisinger.

— We have three cover crop field days coming up next week and there is still time to register to or 515-294-5429.

Liz Juchems